'Fizban's Treasury of Dragons' puts the dragons back in 'Dungeons and Dragons'

Technology 19-10-2021 Mashable 32

Classic role playing game Dungeons and Dragons has historically focused most of its attention on the dungeons, and less on the dragons. Now publisher Wizards of the Coast is seeking to rectify this imbalance, introducing a new bestiary of the beasts for intrepid adventurers to encounter.

Releasing Oct. 26, upcoming sourcebook Fizban's Treasury of Dragons provides details, statistics, and lore on the titular creatures populating Dungeons and Dragons' worlds, as well as items, environments, and races which are related to them. It also reintroduces gem dragons, crystalline scaled beasts which last appeared almost two decades ago in 2002's Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition Monster Manual II.

Now, Mashable can exclusively reveal an excerpt from Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, providing new details on the lairs of the returning crystal dragons.

"Crystal dragons are the most amiable of the gem dragons, for sure," senior game designer James Wyatt told Mashable via email. "But they live in remote, inhospitable places — arctic wildernesses that are much less friendly than they are. So if you were to seek out a crystal dragon, braving the environment would be a significant first hurdle.

"Once you reach the lair, the dragon might welcome the chance for some conversation, but it’s not necessarily inclined to do whatever you ask. Crystal dragons are chaotic neutral, so they’ll do what feels right at the time, without any concern for anyone’s standards of ethics or morality."

Crystal dragons tend to be less hostile than other gem dragons, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're friendly.
Crystal dragons tend to be less hostile than other gem dragons, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're friendly. Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Though gem dragons haven't featured in Dungeons and Dragons for 19 years, Wyatt told Mashable that Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is finally bringing them to the fore again "largely because I have a soft spot in my heart for them."

"From an in-world perspective, [gem dragons have] never gone away," said Wyatt. "But they do tend to be more reclusive than other dragons, so their presence is not always obvious, and they’re also sometimes mistaken for other kinds of dragons by people who don’t know better.

"In our world, I think a big part of the reason they’ve been sort of in and out of favor in the game over the years is that their place in the game’s lore has been sort of hard to pin down," Wyatt continued. "The metallic and chromatic dragons have a clear story and they exist in a satisfying opposition to each other. Bahamut and Tiamat, as the patrons and progenitors of those two dragon families, set the tone for everything we say about metallic and chromatic dragons. Gem dragons have been more nebulous."

Crystal dragon lairs are typically found in cold, icy landscapes.
Crystal dragon lairs are typically found in cold, icy landscapes. Credit: Wizards of the coast

A few adjustments therefore had to be made to better incorporate gem dragons into Dungeons and Dragons' mythology, as well as clarify their role in the universe. While gem dragons were strongly linked to the Elemental Planes in their last appearance, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons takes a different approach when weaving them into its creation myth.

"In Fizban’s, we really wanted to stress how dragons are intricately linked to the fabric (and the mythic history) of the Material Plane, so we brought them back to the Material worlds," said Wyatt. "But some things haven’t changed: their psionic nature, their unusual breath weapons, their neutrality (both in terms of alignment and in terms of the chromatic vs. metallic conflict among dragons), and their overall personality.

"In the creation myth that leads off the book, the Ruby Dragon, Sardior, is the first dragon made by Bahamut and Tiamat as they worked together to populate the First World. But in the destruction of the First World, Sardior was also destroyed. Gem dragons believe that every gem dragon holds a shard of Sardior’s consciousness and divine power. That explains their psionic nature, and it ties them into a theme that runs through this book: the idea that dragons are connected to each other across the worlds of the Material Plane."

SEE ALSO: 'Magic: The Gathering' adds an iconic 'Dungeons and Dragons' monster in new crossover card set

According to Wyatt, the most challenging part of creating Fizban's Treasury of Dragons was keeping the scale "appropriately mythic."

"We didn’t want to get down in the weeds of dragon biology in any way; dragons are inherently magical creatures, not just big flying reptiles," said Wyatt. "So things like the discussion of where dragon eggs come from (it might not be where you think!) or exploring how one dragon’s transformation into an Undead might have repercussions across multiple worlds are where I was stretching my brain and forcing myself to think more fantastically."

Fortunately Wyatt didn't have to grapple with those questions alone, working with a variety of different designers and writers to put together Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.

"In particular, chapter 5 — the long section where we take a deep dive on all the different kinds of dragons — is where we brought together a total of nine different writers, so you really get to see a diverse set of takes on different dragons," he said.

In addition to chapter five, Wyatt also singled out the sourcebook's opening poem "Elegy for the First World" as a section he's "ridiculously proud" of.

"After stretching my poetic muscles writing Homeric hexameter for Mythic Odysseys of Theros (and the Theros Beyond Death card set for Magic), I added a metrical foot and told the story of the creation of the First World in Homeric heptameter, and I’m just delighted by it," said Wyatt.

"I think of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons as a treasure chest full of trinkets and jewels of ideas, inspiration, and game mechanics," said Wyatt. "I hope everyone will find something they can use in their next adventure, campaign, or character, and I can’t wait to hear stories about the fun ideas we inspired!"

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons takes flight on Oct. 26.


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